This week we a take look back at a local legendary electronic store. ‘The Wiz’ was started by four brothers in 1977 and was headquartered in Carteret, New Jersey. Douglas, Lawrence, Marvin and Stephan Jemal were from South Brooklyn. The Jemals were actually from the same Syrian immigrant neighborhood as Eddie and Sam Antar, the founders of Crazy Eddie. The Wiz was an electronics chain with the majority of its locations in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. They sold tapes, CD’s, VCR’s, DVD’s, stereos, computers and records.
It is rumored that some of the brothers were close with the Antars and even sold them discounted merchandise that they were unwilling to carry on their shelves. Before you could simply download music, ‘New Music Tuesdays’ were definitely the place to be. The chain was so infamous in the NYC metro that it appeared on Seinfeld.
They were a main sponsor for The New York Knicks, The New Jersey Nets, the New York Yankees, the New York Mets, the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils.
At their peak, The Wiz was worth an estimated $1.5 billion and employed over 2,000 people. By the late ‘90s, The Wiz began to go downhill thanks to digital music, the internet and larger electronic chains like Best Buy and Circuit City. In 1998, the company filed for bankruptcy and sold to New York based Cablevision for $80 million.
There was a rumor that ‘The Wiz’ sued Biz Markie for his 1988 hit “Nobody Beats the Biz”, which was one of his most well-known singles, but this was proven to be false.
The chain along with Tower Records and Sam Goody wasn’t able to evolve with the new digital era and officially closed in 2003.
What was your favorite ‘Wiz’ location?